Family wants answers in fatal fall

SANDUSKY Terry Chesser knew something wasn't right when the saw his dying stepfather's hands.
Sandusky Register Staff
May 24, 2010



Terry Chesser knew something wasn't right when the saw his dying stepfather's hands.

The man he called Dad, Thomas M. Campbell Sr., 59, of Sandusky, was at St. Vincent Mercy Medical Center in Toledo after suffering a head injury. Police said he accidentally fell down some stairs at a friend's home.

That story didn't make sense to Chesser, who saw extensive bruising and cuts on Campbell's hands.

"He didn't have a bruise or nothing else on his body," Chesser said.

That didn't coincide with an accidental fall.

"If somebody is responsible for this, then they need to admit it," said Chesser's wife, Paula, who described Campbell as nonviolent. "It's a matter of peace of mind."

The Chessers said they never expected Campbell to die on his birthday, Jan. 12, the day after he visited a Castalia home and was injured. Police initially thought the death was accidental, until more information broke in the case.

A Lucas County coroner ruled Campbell's death a homicide caused by head trauma, said Castalia police Chief Ken Majoy. Now rumors are circulating in town that someone pushed Campbell down the stairs.

No one has been charged, but police have suspects, Majoy said. The findings will be turned over to an Erie County grand jury for review and possible charges.

Born and raised in Elizabeth, N.J., Campbell came from a wealthy family but liked living a simple life.

"Material things meant nothing to him," Terry Chesser said.

A Vietnam War veteran, Campbell was a family man who enjoyed drinking beer and spending time with friends. Campbell is survived by his wife, Carol, two biological children, four stepchildren and eight grandchildren.

"He was a very smart man, very intelligent," Terry Chesser said.

He fondly remembers when Campbell gave him his cigarette and lunch money so Chesser could go to a Pink Floyd concert.

"He'd help anybody that needed help," Terry Chesser said.

Harry Lombard, general manager of Dock Of The Bay Marina, worked with Campbell for 11 years. Campbell did electrical work and other maintenance for the business.

"He knew the marina like the back of his hand," he said. "He was liked by all the boaters."

Family said Campbell enjoyed fishing and being outside.

"It's a waste for him to be gone," Paula Chesser said.

The Chessers said they don't believe someone intentionally killed Campbell.

"The man had no enemies," Terry Chesser said.

They just want answers so they can seek closure.

"You don't want his death to go in vain," Lombard said.